Ben Harack is an aspiring polymath working at the intersection of international relations and technological existential risk. He is co-founder of the Vision of Earth project, the primary author of Ruling Ourselves, and one of the engineers behind the Human Diagnosis Project — a worldwide effort led by the global medical community to build an open intelligence system that maps the steps to help any patient. Ben is also an advisor to Convergence, a research nonprofit working on existential risk strategy. He holds a master’s degree in physics and bachelor’s degrees in computer science, mathematics, physics, and psychology.
- Harack, B., Laskowski, K., Bailey, R., Marcotte, J., Jaques, S., Datta, D., and Kuski, S., 2017. Ruling ourselves: The deliberate evolution of global cooperation and governance. New Shape Library, Global Challenges Foundation.
- An interdisciplinary effort to present a new macrostrategy for tackling the intertwined problems of technological existential risk and global governance.
- Semifinalist for the international New Shape Prize, a $5 million USD prize for ideas that could improve global governance and help avoid existential catastrophes.
- New Shape Forum participant at the invitation of the Global Challenges Foundation.
- Laskowski, K., Harack, B., Watson, A., 2019. Governing the emerging risk posed by asteroid manipulation technologies. Effective Altruism Global, San Francisco, 21–23 June.
- Examines how asteroid deflection technologies pose a threat to humanity and how they can be safely governed
- Cooper, D.R., D’Anjou, B., Ghattamaneni, N., Harack, B., Hilke, M., Horth, A., Majlis, N., Massicotte, M., Vandsburger, L., Whiteway, E. and Yu, V., 2012. Experimental review of graphene. ISRN Condensed Matter Physics, 2012. doi:10.5402/2012/501686
- A widely-cited review of the experimental properties of graphene.
Selected blog posts:
- What will cause human extinction: Natural disaster or human folly?
- Our unfriendly universe: Risks of human extinction by nature
- Humanity must flourish to survive
- Occupy heaven: The vast potential of humanity if we can safeguard our future
- Cooperate or perish: Minimal levels of collaboration needed to save the world
- The moral imperative of averting existential risks
- Know your enemy: Saving the world requires humble diligent thought
- Know yourself: Cognitive biases undermining the study of existential risks
- The cooperation possibility frontier
- Developing a bargaining model of technological existential risk that demonstrates that under most conditions, rational actors are incentivized to negotiate and compromise rather than race toward dangerous technologies.
- Examining how existential risk modifies the collective action problem.
- Understanding how “social dilemmas” in game theory (such as the prisoner’s dilemma) are different under existential risk than under other kinds of risk. (Early results indicate that cooperation is more likely under existential risk.)
- Exploring the dynamics of technology races in the Modeling Cooperation project.
- Examining whether the advent of truly “existential” concerns during the Cold War (due to the idea of nuclear winter, etc.) led to a shift in rhetoric, behavior, and policy for the superpowers that differed substantially from their behavior under mutually-assured destruction.
- Further characterizing the little-known technological risk of asteroid deflection technologies, and providing guidelines for how this risk can be averted.
Interested in learning more about the above projects? Ben can be contacted at Ben.Harack@gmail.com